Five Perspectives To Evaluate Your Experiences: #4-Revise

Most every professional athlete who reaches the top of his or her respective sport will tell you that it took a lot of hard work and practice to get there. Malcom Gladwell calls this the “10,000 hour” rule in his book, Outliers. It’s a process of focusing on a very few things and honing them to the point that the basics become second nature and the execution is nothing short of remarkable.

It’s not trying to learn how to do 5000 things well. It’s learning 5 things and doing them 5000 times.

The secret for greatness isn’t getting to a point where one doesn’t need to practice anymore, but it’s realizing that greatness comes from practicing the right things in a consistent manner.

When it comes to the evaluation process – the fourth perspective of revise comes into play here.

Five Perspectives To Evaluate Your Experiences: #3-Reward

Our lives are filled with rituals. There are things that we do on a daily basis that take on a ritualistic feel – the way we care for ourselves, the meals we eat, the daily commutes we make, etc.

Evaluating one’s experiences can be a type of ritual, a traditional exercise that marks the conclusion of an experience. For me personally, an experience doesn’t have a sense of closure until I’ve taken a moment to reflect and evaluate what took place.

Closure helps people to move forward, to take the energy that is being exerted toward one experience and move on to something else. A lack of closure can leave a group of people hanging. It makes one feel like things are unresolved or unfinished. A lack of closure can wear a person out.

Five Perspectives To Evaluate Your Experiences: #2-Revoke

One of the most helpful pieces of productivity advice I’ve ever received was the suggestion to create a To Don’t list. This would be a list of all of the tasks and daily rituals that I should stop doing. It’s a simple message that moves one toward a simpler life.

I feel like I live in a world where I can probably handle “just one more thing.” Perhaps it’s an addiction to busyness or a desire to fill every moment with some type of activity. When someone brings me a new idea or an activity that I can get excited about, I tend to want to try and accomplish it. Yet all of this results in a level of busyness that doesn’t always lead to effectiveness or the accomplishment of what’s really important.

The second perspective of evaluation, which I call revoke, has a lot to do with cutting out the ineffective parts of an experience. Now that you’ve walked through this experience, lived with it for awhile, and have a chance to reflect and review it, you need to decide what’s not worth repeating.

Five Perspectives To Evaluate Your Experiences: #1-Redo

I am always a bit amazed at some of the very wise things that Abraham Lincoln said. One of his quotes that you can spend an afternoon thinking and reflecting on deals with the importance of evaluation, in this case, self-evaluation:

“I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

I probably beat this drum way too much, but I try to instill in our student leaders the value of a “completed event.” It basically comes down to three things…

An event or activity is not over until…
a) Everything is cleaned up and put away.
b) Everyone who helped make it happen is thanked.
c) You have evaluated your experience.

The first two are self-explanatory. It’s the third one that I have to stop and explain.

Download: Experience Evaluation Form

Following up from my last post on Evaluation Exercises, I have completed the Experience Evaluation Form.

This is a full-color, downloadable PDF document. The first page contains the overview of each of the five evaluation perspectives: redo, revoke, reward, revise, and recruit.

This tool is especially helpful for evaluating an event or activity that required the help of others. For example, I will offer this tool to our student leaders. Their evaluations of the activities they lead this year will be helpful for the students who lead the same or similar events next year. Our hope is that through the evaluation process, we’ll make improvements and not make similar mistakes.

The form is available with my compliments and will also be archived on my Resource page.

I welcome your feedback or comments about the form.

Evaluation Exercises

There’s a lot of snow on the ground today. I’ve included a pic I took with my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. While this post isn’t about that app…I highly recommend it!

The snow shows us that we have clearly made the transition from Fall to Winter. Sometimes the change from one season to another isn’t as pronounced. The next season just creeps up on us.

I’ve identified six seasons within the student leader year. At this point in the semester, we’re moving from the fluctuation season into the evaluation season. In my attempt to stay a step ahead of each season, I’ve begun to look again at developing tools to help our students get the most out of their evaluation efforts.

The new tool will focus around five keys to reviewing and reflecting on an experience once it is over: redo, revoke, reward, revise, and recruit.

· redo

What went right? List out the successful elements of your experience. You want to do these things again. These activities deserve repeating. Consider the elements that were at the heart of making this experience worthwhile. Think about the parts of your experience that could easily (or should easily) become a tradition.

This is the part of the evaluation where you focus on what worked. You want to make sure and do this again.

· revoke

Not everything will go smoothly or happen just as you plan it. Sometimes we don’t know until we try. But now that you’ve tried it, you know there are things that you need to toss.

What are those elements from your experience that failed? What should you get rid of? What steps were ineffective and need to be cut out? Is there a traditional part of this experience that has run its course and no longer works…but no one has officially killed it yet? Your evaluation of what to revoke is crucial to creating successful events in the future. The goal of successful evaluation is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

· reward

An event is not over until everyone is thanked. Expressing thanks is a reward to those who helped you pull off a successful event or activity. You may also want to express a reward by celebrating with those who took part in the success of your experience.

Reward is a crucial part of follow-up. Often, people only hear about the negative or only receive feedback when they’ve failed. When you reward others (or yourself) for work well done, you create momentum toward the success of your next event. Rewards come in many forms. It may be words of appreciation, small mementos of the experience, or tangible gifts. Think about what and who needs to be rewarded from each experience.

· revise

Sometimes an element of your experience doesn’t need to be thrown out, only tweaked. Your experience has taught you that you were on the right track, you just need to change your strategy or approach it a bit differently. It’s an important distinction between revise and revoke. You may simply need a little more time or add one more person to the team or spend your money a little differently. Rather than begin all over again, revising let’s you use your experience to improve.

You’ll notice that professionals in any environment aren’t quick to throw out the basics when they make a mistake, but rather will simply revise their approach and make small changes in order to be more effective in the future.

· recruit

This part of the evaluation is focused on people. Consider all of the people involved: participants, spectators, workers, vendors, volunteers, etc. Think about the different strengths and weaknesses that were represented. Was someone missing that would be more helpful in the future? Was there someone that shouldn’t be a part of this experience in the future? Who were the people that were most helpful in the process – you would ask for their help again next time?

We never really know how people will do in various circumstances until we actually see them in action. Now that you’ve had firsthand experience with these different groups of people, what are your recommendations and criticisms?

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Peter Drucker states, “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” My hope is that each of these areas will provide a good context to ask the right questions about what works and what doesn’t.

Leadership Observations From The Miami Heat

You may or may not be a fan of the NBA. I know that I tend to get a bit more interested in the league around playoff times. It seems in professional basketball…it’s all about the playoffs.

There’s a lot of news coming out of the Miami Heat. Expectations had been high at the start of this season because of the superstar team they had put together. Having acquired both LeBron James and Chris Bosh to complement an already all-star caliber, Dwyane Wade, there was anticipation of greatness.

But things haven’t gone as expected (or at least hoped). First off, they aren’t winning games. Secondly, they aren’t playing that well as a team. Finally, there’s conflict in the ranks.

As I casually observe what’s happening within the Miami Heat organization, I see a growing need for leadership. Here’s what I mean…

  • You can bring together the most talented people in the your area, but talent doesn’t necessarily translate into chemistry. Talent is beneficial when you’re by yourself, chemistry is crucial when you work with others. Without team chemistry, a person’s talent may actually work against what the team is trying to accomplish.
  • The best teams have people who understand what their roles are. In the case of the Miami Heat, you have two players (James and Wade) who have both been leaders on teams, but aren’t quite sure who is going to assume the role on this team.
  • A good team member knows when to assert leadership and when to submit to leadership. It seems that the Heat players, while they like each other, haven’t been able to figure out who needs to lead at certain times and in certain situations.
  • When crisis comes to a team, it’s the leader’s job to step up and take responsibility. At this point, the players have begun to question the coach’s ability to get them to play together. They have stated that “he is not letting them be themselves, that they are questioning his offensive strategies, and that they think he is panicking because he fears losing his job.” (ESPN – 11/29)
  • Everyone recognizes that this team has a lot of potential. Good leadership turns potential into performance.
  • Momentum and success make problems seem smaller and easier to manage. Without momentum or success, problems appear insurmountable. Basically, if the Heat were winning games, these issues wouldn’t seem as pressing.
  • What worked for your competition may or may not work for you. The Boston Celtics found great and continued success by going out and bringing a trio of all star players onto their team. They won a championship and seem poised for another great season. It seems the Heat have attempted to copy that formula, but haven’t found a way to implement it with the same level of success. The difference is the people involved. That’s why leadership is so crucial. A formula or strategy must be adapted for the people on team.
  • The first step to solving a problem is to identify what the problem really is. This quote from the ESPN article is hopefully a good step in the right direction for turning the Heat’s performance around: “While the players think that may mean a coaching change, one member of the Heat organization said the team is suffering from a lack of leadership from the players, not the coach.”"They don’t want to step on each other’s toes,” the person said. “There’s no leader on the team. Somebody has to speak up and be the leader on the team. They can’t be afraid to step on people’s toes. They need a vocal leader who’s going to make everybody accountable. I don’t think it’s on the coach. It’s on the players.”

At this point, it looks like one of the Heat players will need to step up and assume a more prominent leadership role on the team. While it’s been Wade’s team up to this point, it appears that Lebron James will need to be the one who fills this spot. The only question will be if Wade is ready to become the Scottie Pippen to James’ Michael Jordan.

10 Lessons For Leading Like A Champion

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on a championship team?
To be the one who hoists the shiny trophy at the end of a hard fought season?
What if you weren’t only on the team…what if you were the leader of that team?

All of us have those moments where we envision ourselves standing at the end of a big game or contest, coming out the victor. I think there’s something within each of us that has seen enough great sports movies with climactic endings to wonder to ourselves – what if that were me?

While we may not get the chance to win a Super Bowl or a gold medal or score the winning basket, we can still act in ways that will help us to lead like champions right where we’re at. In fact, every team that you’re on or that you lead – whether at work, school, or community – wants to be a winning team. We feel a lot better about success than we do about failure (even though failure has a lot to teach us and is often the path we must take to achieve success…but that’s another post).

Sean Payton: Super Bowl Championship Coach (photo credit: LIFE magazine)

So here is today’s list of 10 lessons each of us must learn if we are going to lead our team like a champion.

1. Ignore the negative voices.

There are going to be all sorts of voices that speak (shout, whisper) into your team’s efforts. Some of those voices will assume the role of critic, of naysayer. But nine times out of 10, the negative voice is merely someone’s opinion. Don’t give it more credit than it deserves. While there will be moments of constructive advice you need to hear, you must filter out the negativity that tries to infiltrate any and every team. It’s contagious and can derail your best efforts.

Do you spend your mental energy on the negative naysayers or on the positive possibilities?

2. Lead with class.

The best way I’ve heard this illustrated is when a coach has told his or her players how to respond to victory. They tell them, “Act like you’ve been here before.” That’s the classy way to win…and it’s a classy way to lose as well. No matter the situation, you maintain your composure. You’re confident and you don’t go crazy. The key to class is to be mindful of the excessive. You don’t overreact. Classy leaders keep their composure throughout the highs and the lows.

What kind of composure do you carry in your leadership luggage?

3. The shape you’re in shapes everything else.

It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re in shape. Don’t forget that your head is attached to the rest of your body. Your level of fitness has a direct impact on your mental fitness. Strength leads to stamina. This all ties back into the necessity for a leader of others to lead him or herself first. Don’t wait until some type of tragedy hits you to decide you’ve got to do something about your physical health. If you take the time to get in shape (and stay in shape) you’ll feel better, you’ll look better, and I pretty much guarantee that you’ll lead better.

What are you going to do today to build a better body?

4. Prepare for the possible and practice for the probable.

A championship leader will spend time thinking about the future. That’s because he or she doesn’t want to be surprised. They also don’t want their team to be surprised or unprepared for the unexpected. Help those around you to learn to anticipate what’s just around the corner. Give them the tools necessary to respond the right way and not to react the wrong way. There’s a balance here as well. You can’t predict every possible scenario. Spend the majority of your time making sure everyone has the basics down.

Have you spent enough time teaching your team what the basics are in every situation?

5. Know your team.

There’s a difference between a task-oriented leader and a people-oriented leader. If you just need to get stuff done, need to accomplish some tasks that you can’t get done by yourself, you’re probably more task-oriented. But the winning teams, the ones that accomplish the most and find themselves on the successful side of things, are led by people who know and care about their people. Statistics show that people may appreciate their job, but still be unproductive. It is only when workers become engaged (actively using their discretionary effort toward their job) that productivity and pride in one’s work goes up. Leaders must take the time to acknowledge and appreciate their team in personal ways.

Do you actually know your team or only know about them?

6. Don’t make your team guess which version of you is showing up today.

This one is all about consistency. With a championship leader, there is no “wrong side of the bed.” In the face of success and failure, the leader maintains the same level of expectation and encouragement. Team members can’t function at a high level if they’re always concerned about making sure the leader is in the right frame of mind before they approach with an issue or concern. Consistency leads to approachability.

What are the three values that you want people to see in you in every situation or encounter?

7. Be willing to act in big picture ways in snapshot moments.

Sometimes you will need to give something up in order to go up to the next level. In the moment, it may appear that you’re losing something, but sometimes that’s necessary in order to achieve the greater goal. You might need to move your team around to better fit their strengths, causing some to be initially uncomfortable. You might need to say no to expenditures now so you’ll have dollars on hand for what’s most important. You might need to step back and wait until you’re team is better positioned to move ahead. Sometimes a sacrifice in the moment is necessary for success in the end.

What do you need to scrap today in order to be more successful tomorrow?

8. Value time – yours and others.

Time is the one resource that every single person has the same amount of. When it comes to the issue of time, everyone is on a level playing field…until it comes to how we manage that time. If you can’t manage the clock, the clock will manage you. There’s potential in every minute. But we’ll miss out on that potential if we don’t properly use it. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

How will you make sure you don’t miss your moment today?

9. You win only if everyone on your team wins.

It takes a team to win a championship. Even in sports where there is only one person who stands on the podium at the end, there are a host of people who helped get him or her there. I love what John Maxwell says, “One is too small a number for greatness.” If you find a way to win for some of your team, but not all of your team, it’s not really a win. The best leaders (the championship ones!) will point to their team when the microphone points at them. They’ll also be quick to take the responsibility upon themselves when the team is less than successful.

Is everyone on your team going to feel like the trophy is their trophy when you win?

10. Keep your head in the heat of the moment.

This is somewhat of a summary statement for many of the lessons listed above. You can do everything right, to get everyone ready, and then blow it right at the moment of execution. Don’t panic. If you panic, the members of your team will panic. If you lose your cool, it will fuel the emotions of those around you. When you lose your head in the moment you lose your grasp on the options.

Does the temperature in the room change when circumstances change because of your leadership?

What are some of the other lessons you have seen from championship leaders? Share them with us in the comments below.